Saturday, March 5, 2016

David himself calls him 'Lord'

So, in what sense is He his son?

This is the question from Psalm 110 which Jesus posed in Mark 12 to the scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees who were present. They were at their usual preoccupation: trying to find fault in the teaching of Jesus. It is a question with a lesson. It is a lesson not easily learned since Jesus did not answer his own question but left it for those to whom he directed it to ponder it. It is possible that when we have wrestled and struggled with this unanswered question which Jesus posed about David that we might then begin to understand and answer the question the quandary of so many saints and scholars. Their quandary  stems from their question and rejection of various claims concerning Jesus, the Son of God, that he was one with the Father. Yes, it is good to pose questions even to question authority, but when you do listen for the response. Rightly, the very same about David, or at least a very similar question can be posed to believers about Jesus, the Son of God: Paul (and Peter) calls Jesus, the Son of God, God. (Titus 2:13; II Peter 1:1) So, in what sense is He God?

the Lord and the Lord of David
The value and significance of the question is that David uses the term Lord (lower and upper case of the term being of no significance) to refer to a descendant who was to proceed from him. It is to be noted and remembered that merely because David was a prophet (Acts 2:30) that he himself did not necessarily understand what it was that he was prophesying. Peter attests to his as being the case about the prophets and those things which they prophesied. (I Peter 2:10-12) They did not know or understand the meaning of what they proclaimed.

a breakdown
Illustrations tend to break down when pressed beyond their initial intent. Admittedly, there is good reason for a breakdown in a comparison between David’s Lord and Jesus, the Son of God. The reason for this breakdown is the fact that it is understood that there was to be and that in fact there was some physical connection between David and his Lord; Messiah. However in the case of Jesus either attempt to draw a physical or spirit connection between Jesus and God poses an equal challenge; both to understand and to teach the doctrine concerning Jesus that is true to all his claims.

what’s in a name
Something which compounds the difficulty surrounding this question about ‘The Lord’ and “my Lord’ reverts to what the Jews did with the name of God. They thought to cease from saying or writing the name and instead to substitute another term for the name of God. The notions of man to think that he can improve on the revelation of the will of God are utterly amazing. It was the notion of respect and piety towards God why they decided to essentially blot out the name of God. Oh, there is no doubt it that there intentions were good.. However when God identified himself to Moses with the name, I AM WHO I AM God was not squeamish or protective about his name being heard by pagan ears. Moses was to declare his name to the sons of Israel and in court of the pagan king of Egypt. So, nothing has been lost concerning God and his will merely because through the intentions of man his name in the scriptures was, according to the Jews, lost. Jesus made it clear. He is neither impressed nor deceived by those who address with with repetition of Lord but do not the things that he says.

glorifying the son
What Psalm 110 relates is akin to a man whose son ascends to the presidency of the United States. As he prepares to take his place as president the son relates how “the president said to my president” to refer to the incumbent president speaking to the president elect who is the man’s son. One president is not inferior to the other. It is their function as president which is in transition with the incumbent president turning over his office to the incoming president. The man’s son as president is not superior to the father.  The father acknowledges and recognizes his son as being the president and he rejoices in glorifying his son.

It is in very much the same way that David refers to ‘the Lord’ and ‘my Lord’ or ‘My YHWH’ and ‘the Adonai’ If we were to read it in English it would read as follows: ‘The YHWH’ said to ‘my Adonai.’ Of course, the difference is that in the case of the presidents there are two distinct and separate individuals. This is not so with God and the Son of God . . . right? However, see the how apostle Paul defined very clearly and specifically as he referred to each by Father, Son and Holy Spirit as to the function and role of each one in the redemption of the children of God in Ephesians 1.

Single word definitions whether from the Hebrew, Greek or English language make for great back-and-forth loop  discussions between scholars, but they cannot suffice to break through the impasse of their understanding or yield understanding and edification for the saints. YHWH and Adonai, as much as scholars attempt to separate these, were not treated differently by Isaiah when he saw the Lord/LORD or when Paul referred to Jesus as God and Savior. The latter term of Adonai is (get this) how God himself calls and refers to himself when He steps into close intimacy with man to redeem him from sin.

the unbelief of seeing and death
God forever surprises and amazes us with his responses to our perceptions and mistaken notions about his purpose and action. What is the reason so many turn away from calling or addressing Jesus as God? It is, as they claim, that Jesus was 1) visible and seen by all, and 2) he died. This perception and mistaken notion is almost as common among many saints, even if secretly, as it is among Bible scholars, Muslims, atheists and other nonbelievers. They reflect what Jesus said to the Sadducees, namely, that they understand neither the scriptures nor the power of God. Essentially, this erroneous unbelief of scholars dictates that since Jesus could be seen and was seen and then died he is not God.

Jesus had no words of praise for the scholars in Israel whose mistaken notions were prevalent in what they taught the people about God. Their discussions abounded with hypothetical scenarios such as between a woman who had multiple husbands all of whom died to leave as a widow. Today, those scenarios abound just as much including the popular practice of determining that a passage is a poem or a narrative; this, not to impart understanding, but to reveal the scholars' own inability to understand what they nonetheless expend much time with endless questions as to possible meanings of a word or passage. Jesus said to them, Is this not the reason you are mistaken because you do not understand the scriptures or the power of God? Then, you are greatly mistaken. He did thank the Father that he kept hidden things from the intelligent and wise, but revealed them to infants. These same conditions are prevalent in the fellowship of the saints as they too, like Israel, have been taught by so-called scholars who reject the deity of Jesus. The question that remains: Is this true?

no man can see God
The first serious misunderstanding so often parroted by scholars is that 1) no man can see God and live, and 2) no man has seen God. This is either ignorance or a refusal to acknowledge the various times that the scriptures testify of men who saw God and did not die. Scholars are oblivious, too that when John states that no man has seen God John is not quick to add that Jesus, the only begotten God or Son of God, has seen God. Instead, what John does state is that the begotten God/Son has EXPLAINED him.

Does that seem peculiar? Does it maybe suggest that seeing God is not nearly as significant as understanding what he has revealed and explained about himself? That in fact, seeing is not believing necessarily. Even then when Jesus declared to the disciples that if they have seen him they have seen the Father _ it means nothing if we do not understand what has been explained to us. The irony is that although twenty first century man does not have the benefit (clearly not the ultimate verification of truth) of visually seeing Jesus they have instead the written testimony, the explanation, and they still do not believe.

unbelief and the fear of death
Perhaps the greatest insidious unbelief is as concerns death. Although scholars and saints profess to believe in the power of the resurrection they remain, like Muslims and atheists, under the deception and lie of the fear of death. How? The reason these reject the deity of Jesus is because, as they feebly reply, God cannot die. The ignorance, particularly among so-called scholars is appalling. While Muslims dismiss all deity claims about Jesus because, according to them, Jesus was a man only, scholars on the other hand reject the deity claims of Jesus because he died thereby proving that he is a man only. Scholars point out that Jesus referred to himself as a man with no more scrutiny of those words than when he referred to himself as a prophet. The strong admonition of God to Miriam and Aaron was not only to define what constitutes a prophet of God, but also to enlighten them that Moses did not fit that definition. Moses was no more a prophet than Jesus a fact to which scholars are oblivious. One ignorance is no more enlightening than the other.

Here is where the fear of death, despite all their bluster to the contrary, reveals itself in the scholar just like the atheist. God died. He did not remain dead. What more powerful way could the creator, giver and sustainer of life demonstrate that death has nothing on him. It is in the palm of his hand. He can lay down his life and take up again.

Does this prove Jesus is God? No. The question remains for every believer to ponder the significance and implications of the death and resurrection of Jesus. We like to have quick, easy answers. Foolishly, yes, we think that the answer is found in the abundance of original language word definitions. As much as Jesus spoke to the masses in parables to teach, challenge, encourage and allow them to think I believe he did the same with his adversaries the Sadducees, Pharisees and scribes such as when he posed the question from Psalm 110 without giving them an answer.

The significance of this understanding of Jesus, the Son of God as God is that there are implications. These are to be examined and it is for the reader to draw his own inference for his or her own confidence and conviction. Jesus is God in the sense that unlike the prophets who raised the dead, God laid down his life and took it up again by his own power just as he said he would do. It is for this reason that the saints in Christ can unashamedly and unabashedly call him God.

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